The featured image shows the current batch of treen destined to be Christmas presents for family and friends. Fall is treen season. I pause from other work to dig through the cherry splits for good spoon wood.
These past few years, I’ve been working through a bountiful stock of native cherry. It was cut about two years ago and is still not totally dry, but dry enough for me to use ( according to my moisture meter). The average length is 15 – 18 inches, but if I need larger stock, there are some unsawn logs available to me. For most of what I carve firewood length is excellent, and that’s what the cherry pile originated as; firewood. When my firewwod provider told me there was cherry in the load I instantly started digging for it.
If you sell treen it’s essential to get an idea of what you can get out of a split, log, or plank. Wood, like I am working with, has bark, sapwood, wane, knots, cracks, and all sorts of imperfections in it. But, it’s gorgeous wood after you get rid of the faults. I begin the work by taking a maul and a froe to the large splits of wood. In reducing the bigger wedges, I have my first opportunity to evaluate what is inside. All that is rejected at this stage is lovely kindling for the woodstove. I gradually work the piece into a large blank, as you see at the top in the photo below. If there are no severe checks or significant splits in the wood, I can proceed.
Below the blank is a partially worked piece. The blank has been refined into a general the general shape of a dipper or deep spoon.
Below the rough out is a completed spoon. With luck and some careful cutting, I can get several products out of one blank. The examples shown are a bowl scraper and a spatula. You do not always get lucky, and lots of time, there are hidden knots, cracks, or other flaws that mean you have one piece and a pile of kindling. I heat with wood; cherry kindling is always welcome.
I use my jointer to get a flat surface if the splitting doesn’t provide one. After this, it’s off to the bandsaw to refine the shape a bit. Once upon a time, I did much of this work with a shave. Selling good volumes of treen at boat shows ( not everyone wants a boat portrait, you know!) dissuaded me from this. Not to worry. There is still much hand tool work to take a rough blank and turn it into an elegant spoon.